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Posted: Nov 19th 2007 3:10PM Durinthal said

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Nice article, and I'm also yearning for the roleplaying that seems to have disappeared from recent games.

Posted: Nov 19th 2007 3:35PM (Unverified) said

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Yea I would agree that the "real" RP part of it is lost but... I mean, IMHO, I would never really "RP" with someone in-game. I wouldn't try to talk like my toon or anything because, A. I wouldn't know where to begin. B. I just like to play more than I do try to sound like something lol. And most of my toons are female and I'm not, so that would pose a problem anyway.

*Thinking back to Southpark Episode of Wow*..... :)

Posted: Nov 19th 2007 3:38PM (Unverified) said

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Great Article. i always felt saddened when i would spend hours doing a quest chain, spelunking several dungeons, killing specific targets, collecting quest items, conversing with 10 or more NPCs, fighting for my life against that last boss, and finally being rewarded with that amazing new weapon... only to see 5 other players with it when i fly to Ironforge.

When i felt like roleplaying, it kinda took away from it when i didnt feel unique from any other rogue.

Posted: Nov 19th 2007 3:57PM (Unverified) said

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Wow, it's nice to find someone who knows what a MUSH is.

I starting MUSHing when I was just a kid -- it's where I learned role-playing itself, as well as the finer points of spelling and punctuation that seems to be lacking in this day and age when you hop online. When I first discovered MMOs I was thrilled. A place where I could actually SEE my character, and other characters, and interact with them in a great big visible world!

...Unfortunately, very few other people out there knew how to type (or spell, for that matter) apparently, and immersion was right out. Instead the focus was on stats, gear, loot, raids, and not at all on characters, storylines, and plot.

In the end, I enjoy MMOs, and have fun playing them, but I don't bother even pretending I can role-play on them. I stick to the PvP servers where it's "kill or be killed" regardless of the "less mature" playerbase that people say resides there. It's a game, nothing more, and if I really want to role-play I'll take it elsewhere.

Posted: Nov 19th 2007 4:00PM Ghen said

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If a company enforces the rules on designated Roleplay servers, or (heaven forbid) actively participates with server specific content then I would be right in line to sign up.

As it is though, the biggest MMO on the market with the biggest, most detailed story on the market (sorry LotR) doesn't bother with roleplay. They made some servers, designated them RP, and thats it. rake in the money.

As far as voice chat ruining roleplay, well I don't think so... It might take longer to catch on than just typing it but with a company that stands behind their own designations and a built in fanbase of roleplayers I think it would be easier to get into over voice chat than in text!

Posted: Nov 19th 2007 4:16PM aboutblank77 said

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I used to play a game called Dark Ages. Not Dark ages of Camelot, just the regular kind (http://www1.darkages.com/). The gameplay isn't all that interesting and the graphics are 2D but it was the one mmo where I actually role played, or at least kept the outside world outside. I played as a priest primarily.

The most interesting part was when I found out that most of the jobs that are normally done by "GMs" were handled by players who were recruited into the guard. I decided to join and I had to take a test that was given by one of the more senior members of the guard in which I had to learn some of the city's history as well as its laws. You get a cool uniform and some interesting abilities such as requesting bans and pushing people out of the way. (The game had collision between characters and sometimes there would be jams in areas or people would form up around an entrance and prevent people from coming or going).

As a priest I also had the ability to perform in-game weddings, which was a little odd and surprising. I found out when two people asked me to do it for them, and I did. The day after, the girl came to me and started screaming for a divorce. I had to flip through this book thing that showed me all the rules and whatnot and had to try to explain to her that the man had to be there for this part as well. I basically stood around for awhile for her to complain to this guy until he came down to this church so I could unwed them. It was an interesting experience, and one unlike any I've had in a game since then.

If it weren't for the fact that the gameplay was not worth the monthly fee, I'd probably still play it. I tried to play on an rppvp server in wow once but all I got were people with funny accents. I don't really think an orc warlock would talk like a peon. It seemed to detract more from the rp than add to it. (I also overheard a discussion between 3 paladin characters while playing alliance who were talking about "the light," which for some reason ended up sounding like the two male paladins were hitting on the female one)

Posted: Nov 19th 2007 4:22PM aboutblank77 said

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oh that's right, the guard also had to enforce roleplaying. At least they had to keep people from talking about the outside world. There were ways you were allowed to refer to things like "going afk" which everybody recognized, except they made it sound more in character. I forget what they were but I remember most of them being pretty inventive.

I only had to give out a few warnings and only one ban, but it was pretty cool. (ban was for harassment not ooc)
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Posted: Nov 19th 2007 5:48PM (Unverified) said

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Thanks for sharing that story Spiral. Those types of bizarre RP events and RP interactions definitely remind me of my time in Elendor MUSH and Amber MUSH.

Do you think policing a modern MMOG for breaking OOC rules is possible in today's gaming environment? I'm guessing it would have to be community driven, just like in your case.
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Posted: Nov 19th 2007 7:31PM Durinthal said

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The problem with disallowing OOC chatter is that there's only a small portion of the market that would willingly follow it, and an even smaller part would actually want to actively enforce it. Add to that the fact that even that small section will prefer different game mechanics, and you suddenly don't have enough people for it to be viable.

In a market where you're trying to get the next WoW killer and not a niche product, it's simply not possible. A publisher doesn't want to put their weight behind a game that will draw only 10k subscriptions because it isn't profitable.
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Posted: Nov 19th 2007 5:09PM Grizz said

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You captured the scene very well Mark, good writeup!

Posted: Nov 19th 2007 6:12PM (Unverified) said

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RP is dead. Long live RP. ;-)

Something like RP really is what you (and others) make of it yourself. I played WoW for 2 years and saw lots of people crying about lack of RP or the dead of RP, but I always had a lot of fun just playing the game In Character with others. It really adds to the fun I have in games.

It is however true that RP is sadfully often pushed in a corner by the developers. While I had a lot of fun roleplaying in WoW, I was usually angry about the way Blizzard dealt with things, adding ridiculous story-line changes and bringing shit like Halloween and Christmas into Azeroth. Even npc's were seriously sometimes just out of character, supposed to be funny.

But I completely understand why they don't spend that much time in it. Also about enforcing, it's rather hard and perhaps not the way to go in MMO's, in a game like WoW that is so full of mechanics that don't make sense RP-wise.

I also think dividing the playerbase into "RP'ers" and "non-RP'ers" often does more harm than good. I think it's a huge part of the reason why so many people out there look at RP'ers like they're a bunch of weirdos. I prefer a sandbox world where your real actions define your character. Take a look at Eve Online, while it may be a bit hard for people to identify with a space-ship, it's probably the best bigger MMO out there for roleplay. It's where your actions count and have consequences, what it directly makes it feel more meaningful. CCP actively promotes that view by just telling players that they're roleplayers. (You pirate? You're pirate. You mine? You're a miner. Etc etc)

I seriously think that's the future of Roleplaying in MMO's.The mechanics in Eve Online make a lot of sense RP-wise too, more than any other MMO out there currently. The Eve storyline actively progresses with even ingame news-articles and all that. And then there's ofcourse Ambulation, which will be the best virtual world for chatting and walking around as a character available and should be awesome for roleplaying too.

Ofcourse the majority are still pretty much Out of Character in chat-channels, but well. It's easy to involve those people in the bigger story.

Posted: Nov 19th 2007 6:44PM (Unverified) said

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Nice article Marc.

I never played text based games (unless you count pen and paper), my first real experience of 'good', make that 'fun' RPing was in AO (Anarchy Online).

The game didn't have much content when it first launched, so there wasn't all that much to do except role playing (or wait for the next bug fix). Me and a few friends started a RP guild called the Bronto Liberation Army. We had a theme which always helps role playing and we talked in character most of the time, stayed in character even when others around us tried to talk about RL. It always shocked me how often people just didn't get we were role playing.

I sometimes find that role players can take the whole role play thing way to seriously. Our philosophy was always to have a laugh while RPing, it became a challenge to create and play the most stupid or amusing characters, be it prudish Bureaucrats, moronic Atrox's or womanising Adventurers. I believe some RPers suffer from a distinct lack of humour, which has created a somewhat negative impression of role playing with many on-line gamers. Laughter is a great ice breaker for those non-RP people in my opinion.

I don't think I've laughed so much in any other game and I've certainly never had so much fun in a MMO since, probably due to the fact I've never managed to RP my characters to the same depth, with such nice amusing people.

Posted: Nov 20th 2007 1:39AM (Unverified) said

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Great piece! The nice thing is, there are still a ton of text-only RPGs out there for you to inhabit. The real question is, then, is it possible to go back to doing that after all this graphical goodness?

Posted: Nov 20th 2007 2:11AM Anatidae said

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I think that the main reason RP is failing is the interface of the games. UO had plenty of RP, and I believe it was the chat interface that encouraged it.

If you wanted to talk to someone across the world, you ended up using ICQ or something. I think ICQ was the IM of choice back then, and everyone would trade up ICQ #s to chat, but in-game, all you had was the speech bubble over your head.


My thought is that on modern day MMOs, RP servers should have these features:

#1 ALL chat (other than whispers) is heard by anyone nearby, period. If your talking on guild channel and I am standing near you, I should be able to hear your side of the conversation, just like if you were on a cell phone. Heck, I would go so far to say if I stand close enough then I can even hear the guild chat through whatever tech/magical device you are using to talk to your guild with.

#2 RP servers should be given tools to RP. Character background text fields, skills and abilities that serve nothing to do with killing, healing or buffing - basically non-combat abilities. Most non-combat abilities end up used heavily in RPing.

#3 Tracking of the right data! Totally useless for combat, skills, stats... who cares. RP is about status and social interactions. Say if someone does an /insult emote on you, then your character discription might show that you have a grievance with that person. Similar tools would really make a difference.


Basically, more tools for social interaction while removing the constant silence of the world. Take a game like WoW, you can go into a populated city and the only people talking are NPCs, yet probably everyone is chatting on some channel somewhere. Yes, it would be a text mess hell, but RPers like that, so it is a RP server function. This way you can interact more easily with strangers. Also, it encourages more realistic behavior - like having your friends retire to a quiet pup to chat so that you are not overheard.

Posted: Nov 20th 2007 11:36AM (Unverified) said

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Proximity based eavesdropping is a really cool idea Brian! Of course, I think you’ll always want to be able to send a buddy a private message – that’s actually useful in setting up RP situations too. But back to the eavesdropping. What if, in addition to text, you could actually overhear conversation in voice chat – just like you can overhear people in “real life.” What if when you walked into a town you could hear the conversations of anyone around you if you were close enough to that person or group of people. This might help limit the overall chatter when entering a massive city, but also allow for unique RP opportunities. Imagine walking down a street in Stormwind and you gradually hear a heated debate from a nearby alleyway. Maybe you stealth, sneak up and listen in on an elaborate RP plot to kill a guild master.

Then again, standing around a mailbox in Stormwind listening to 25 people yacking about Dancing with the Stars would suck. Maybe if, like you are saying, we have more tools and options for RP it would work better. Like you could filter out OOC chat if you wanted and only hear RP chat; or something similar. I’d love it if devs took RP into account, because, like Akela said, it’s hard to go back to text based when you’ve been spoiled by all the shiny graphical yumminess.
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Posted: Nov 20th 2007 8:33AM (Unverified) said

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I played Dark Ages too. The RP in that game was a lot of fun. I was a monk and I had actual students. In order to progress they had to pass these tests where they responded to lore questions. I wasn't supposed to warn them ahead of time just teach them the lore. We would sit by the river that ran through the starter town and they would repeat these mantra things so they would know them.

You could also go to college in the game, even teach a class yourself.

Posted: Nov 22nd 2007 12:11PM (Unverified) said

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In an interview on VW earlier this year one of the sales guys from Vivox, who work with CCP and Linden Labs, said that they were developing a "bubble chat" system with CCP for EVE. This would provide an in-game voice chat to permit people in the same area in space (say, working in the same asteroid belt) chat publicly in a common channel.

It's not turned up as a game feature, and presumably it would be back up by a text chat channel with geographic range, but as a way of promoting social interaction, and permitting some sneakiness, it could be pretty useful.

Vivox's voice font technology (which apparently Second Life already uses, but I'm not familiar with SL) would also help provide immersion - male players with female characters could RP more successfully.

Posted: Nov 29th 2007 10:20PM (Unverified) said

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I started with role playing online with PernMUSH, Uncanny X Mush, FurryMuck and Children of the Atom MUX.

The paper and pencil games will always hold my interest longer than any computer-based 'role playing' game. They should be 'roll-playing' game instead. Its all about the mechanics, like you said.

I'm still doing paper and pencil, though nights I do the computer. I won't ever stop doing it, either, as I enjoy real roleplaying just too much.

Posted: Nov 30th 2007 12:26AM (Unverified) said

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"Is it possible to role play in a modern MMORPG?"

For the most part, not really, due to the way the games are designed though as Brian indicated. If MMO's were designed differently, you'd probably have much more possibilities for roleplaying (similar to MUDs and MUSHs as you said).

For example, not being able to know anything about a person, other than what you see is a great way to enhance gameplay (so no knowing their level, class, whatever). I mean is that robed figure approach me along this dusty road a beggar, mad mage, or apocalyptic demigod? You won't really know until you converse and get to know him.

Again that's one of the beauties of MUDs, as I remember playing a mad priest in a city once who believed the gods has forsaken the people. When a world event happened in the city (i.e. demons coming out of the ground), I took advantage of the situation and played it up (i.e. The end is near! The gods have forsaken us!). I did such a good job of spewing cryptic babble that I eventually had a large horde of people in the town chasing after me, thinking that I was possible some mad evil priest who had unleashed the demons on the town.

In regular game like WoW, that's pretty much impossible. You just have to look at the person's race and level and inspect them to know what their potential is. Totally takes so much out of the game.

And Brian's mention of overhearing conversations next to you is dead on, as I've thought of this myself even. Again this opens up so many possibilities. You might overhear someone talking about a rich ore vein discovered in a far valley or hear that a shipment of goods will be going out the next morning along the eastern road. These things lead to character created adventures without having to even have a quest system. Of course the gameplay has to be designed in such a way that you can take advantage of this. I mean if ore respawns every 20 minutes or if that caravan is impossible to loot because the way the game is designed then it doesn't really matter what you overhear.

Any Nuyan, I agree. Once EVE gets Ambulation (the ability to walk around and actually see your character), it could really open up the game from a role playing perspective. Be interesting to see how they handle the chat aspect of it as well because being able to overhear conversations in a station tavern would be pretty cool (i.e. Guristas are planning an attack next week!).

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